Valandis Bardzokas: Creative metaphors and non-propositional effects: an experiment


Over the last decade there has been growing cognitive pragmatic (particularly relevance-theoretic) interest in the nature of metaphorical interpretation, particularly of the type involved in reading verbal metaphors in works of literature. Much of this interest has focused on non-propositional aspects of interpretation, in other words, the derivation of mental image effects/emotive effects. Central to this enquiry is the following question: is the role of non-propositional effects essential to the metaphorical interpretation process? The implications of answering this question are far from trivial, since, if the answer is positive, then metaphorical interpretation must be viewed as depending on the derivation of non-propositional effects, in the same way that it depends on the derivation of propositional effects (implicatures). In this sense, non-propositional effects could be said to claim a central place in the domain of (metaphorically intended) utterance interpretation and, thus, also in the scope of linguistic pragmatics.

Contrary to other cognitively-oriented studies, relevance-theoretic studies put forth the argument that mental image effects do not fulfil an essential role in the metaphorical interpretation process. While the evidence that supports this argument is solid, it has crucially been procured on theoretical grounds and, therefore, requires experimental substantiation.

The current paper sets out to respond to this requirement, taking on board emotive effects, apart from metal images. In pursuit of an answer to the central question raised above, the current work corroborates the view that the role of non-propositional effects in creative metaphor interpretation is not essential.